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Guildford, United Kingdom

Espina G.,University of Bath | Eley K.,TMO Renewables Ltd | Pompidor G.,German Electron Synchrotron | Schneider T.R.,German Electron Synchrotron | And 2 more authors.
Acta Crystallographica Section D: Biological Crystallography | Year: 2014

Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius is a thermophilic bacterium that is able to ferment both C6 and C5 sugars to produce ethanol. During growth on hemicellulose biomass, an intracellular β-xylosidase catalyses the hydrolysis of xylo-oligosaccharides to the monosaccharide xylose, which can then enter the pathways of central metabolism. The gene encoding a G. thermoglucosidasius β-xylosidase belonging to CAZy glycoside hydrolase family GH52 has been cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant enzyme has been characterized and a high-resolution (1.7Å) crystal structure has been determined, resulting in the first reported structure of a GH52 family member. A lower resolution (2.6Å) structure of the enzyme-substrate complex shows the positioning of the xylobiose substrate to be consistent with the proposed retaining mechanism of the family; additionally, the deep cleft of the active-site pocket, plus the proximity of the neighbouring subunit, afford an explanation for the lack of catalytic activity towards the polymer xylan. Whilst the fold of the G. thermoglucosidasius β-xylosidase is completely different from xylosidases in other CAZy families, the enzyme surprisingly shares structural similarities with other glycoside hydrolases, despite having no more than 13% sequence identity. © 2014 International Union of Crystallography. Source

Bartosiak-Jentys J.,Imperial College London | Eley K.,TMO Renewables Ltd | Leak D.J.,Imperial College London
Applied and Environmental Microbiology | Year: 2012

The pheB gene from Geobacillus stearothermophilus DSM6285 has been exploited as a reporter gene for Geobacillus spp. The gene product, catechol 2,3-dioxygenase (C23O), catalyzes the formation of 2-hydroxymuconic semialdehyde, which can be readily assayed. The reporter was used to examine expression from the ldh promoter associated with fermentative metabolism. © 2012, American Society for Microbiology. Source

Mongkolthanaruk W.,University of Sheffield | Mongkolthanaruk W.,Khon Kaen University | Cooper G.R.,University of Sheffield | Cooper G.R.,TMO Renewables Ltd | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Bacteriology | Year: 2011

Spores of Bacillus subtilis require the GerAA, GerAB, and GerAC receptor proteins for L-alanine-induced germination. Mutations in gerAA, both random and site directed, result in phenotypes that identify amino acid residues important for receptor function in broad terms. They highlight the functional importance of two regions in the central, integral membrane domain of GerAA. A P324S substitution in the first residue of a conserved PFPP motif results in a 10-fold increase in a spore's sensitivity to alanine; a P326S change results in the release of phase-dark spores, in which the receptor may be in an "activated" or "quasigerminated" state. Substitutions in residues 398 to 400, in a short loop between the last two likely membrane-spanning helices of this central domain, all affect the germination response, with the G398S substitution causing a temperature-sensitive defect. In others, there are wider effects on the receptor: if alanine is substituted for conserved residue N146, H304, or E330, a severe defect in L-alanine germination results. This correlates with the absence of GerAC, suggesting that the assembly or stability of the entire receptor complex has been compromised by the defect in GerAA. In contrast, severely germination-defective mutants such as E129K, L373F, S400F, and M409N mutants retain GerAC at normal levels, suggesting more local and specific effects on the function of GerAA itself. Further interpretation will depend on progress in structural analysis of the receptor proteins. © 2011, American Society for Microbiology. Source

Cooper G.R.,University of Sheffield | Cooper G.R.,TMO Renewables Ltd | Moir A.,University of Sheffield
Journal of Bacteriology | Year: 2011

The paradigm gerA operon is required for endospore germination in response to L-alanine as the sole germinant, and the three protein products, GerAA, GerAB, and GerAC are predicted to form a receptor complex in the spore inner membrane. GerAB shows homology to the amino acid-polyamine-organocation (APC) family of single-component transporters and is predicted to be an integral membrane protein with 10 membrane-spanning helices. Site-directed mutations were introduced into the gerAB gene at its natural location on the chromosome. Alterations to some charged or potential helix-breaking residues within membrane spans affected receptor function dramatically. In some cases, this is likely to reflect the complete loss of the GerA receptor complex, as judged by the absence of the germinant receptor protein GerAC, which suggests that the altered GerAB protein itself may be unstable or that the altered structure destabilizes the complex. Mutants that have a null phenotype for L-alanine germination but retain GerAC protein at near-normal levels are more likely to define amino acid residues of functional, rather than structural, importance. Single-aminoacid substitutions in each of the GerAB and GerAA proteins can prevent incorporation of GerAC protein into the spore; this provides strong evidence that the proteins within a specific receptor interact and that these interactions are required for receptor assembly. The lipoprotein nature of the GerAC receptor subunit is also important; an amino acid change in the prelipoprotein signal sequence in the gerAC1 mutant results in the absence of GerAC protein from the spore. © 2011, American Society for Microbiology. Source

Taylor M.P.,TMO Renewables Ltd | Taylor M.P.,University of the Western Cape | Mulako I.,University of the Western Cape | Tuffin M.,University of the Western Cape | Cowan D.,University of the Western Cape
Biotechnology Journal | Year: 2012

Alcohol-based liquid fuels feature significantly in the political and social agendas of many countries, seeking energy sustainability. It is certain that ethanol will be the entry point for many sustainable processes. Conventional ethanol production using maize- and sugarcane-based carbohydrates with Saccharomyces cerevisiae is well established, while lignocellulose-based processes are receiving growing interest despite posing greater technical and scientific challenges. A significant challenge that arises from the chemical hydrolysis of lignocellulose is the generation of toxic compounds in parallel with the release of sugars. These compounds, collectively termed pre-treatment inhibitors, impair metabolic functionality and growth. Their removal, pre-fermentation or their abatement, via milder hydrolysis, are currently uneconomic options. It is widely acknowledged that a more cost effective strategy is to develop resistant process strains. Here we describe and classify common inhibitors and describe in detail the reported physiological responses that occur in second-generation strains, which include engineered yeast and mesophilic and thermophilic prokaryotes. It is suggested that a thorough understanding of tolerance to common pre-treatment inhibitors should be a major focus in ongoing strain engineering. This review is a useful resource for future metabolic engineering strategies. © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. Source

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